Men’s Junior National Duals Preview: Loaded freestyle and Greco-Roman fields in Tulsa
by Adam Engel, USA Wrestling
Kannon Webster shows off the Illinois on his singlet after winning the 2021 Junior Nationals freestyle title. Photo by Austin Bernard.
One major USA Wrestling age-group National Duals tournament remains.
Dozens of teams will compete in the Junior National Duals beginning Wednesday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Greco-Roman competition starts Wednesday with finals on Thursday afternoon. Freestyle takes the mat on Friday morning with finals Saturday.
In last year’s event, Illinois won the Greco-Roman championship with a 4-1 performance in the Gold/Silver round robin pool. Iowa dominated Oklahoma Outlaws Red, 40-23, to win the freestyle championship.
Every bout will be streamed on FloWrestling.
We will preview some of the strong teams who are competing on the men’s side below.
Note: A Junior Women’s Duals preview will be posted separately.
2021 Junior National Duals results
1st place — Illinois
2nd place — Oklahoma Outlaws Blue
3rd place — Minnesota Blue
4th place — Team Georgia
5th place — California
6th place — Team Wisconsin
1st place — Iowa
2nd place — Oklahoma Outlaws Red
3rd place — Minnesota Blue
4th place — Illinois
5th place — Team Wisconsin
6th place — Ohio Red
7th place — California
8th place — Team New Jersey
2022 JUNIOR NATIONAL DUALS
at Tulsa, Okla., June 14-18
Wednesday, June 15
9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Session 1 — Greco (Preliminary rounds 1 and 2)
1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. — Session 2 — Greco (Preliminary rounds 3, 4 and 5)
Thursday, June 16
9 a.m. to 12 p.m. — Session 3 — Greco Gold/Silver, Bronze/Copper, Red/Blue,
Green/Yellow (Rounds 1 and 2 preliminary duals)
1 p.m. to 5 p.m. — Session 4 — Greco rounds 3 & 4 preliminary duals & finals placement match dual
Friday, June 17
8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Session 1 — Freestyle (Rounds 1, 2 and 3)
1:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Session 2 — Freestyle (Rounds 4, 5 and 6 and round 1 of preliminary duals color pools)
Saturday, June 18
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ¬— Session 3 — Freestyle (Rounds 2, 3 and 4 and finals)
Note: Several rosters are unknown right now as they have not been finalized
A balanced middleweight lineup loaded with Fargo All-Americans give California an edge. It placed in both styles last year and return with a plethora of debutants.
Ray Ray Harris (120 pounds) boasts two Fargo Greco-Roman titles. He teched and pinned his way to a Fargo Greco championship last year and competed in the 16U bracket in 2019. He returns to Tulsa after losing twice a year ago. Brock Bobzien (132 pounds) is another multi-time Fargo champion and All-American. Bobzien, a 2021 Cadet World Team member, will wrestle for Wisconsin in the fall. Bobzien also won two gold medals at the U17 Pan-American Championships last year. It doesn’t stop there. Paul Kelly, another 132-pounder boosts the weight’s depth as a Fargo Junior Greco All-American. Also watch for Beau Mantanona at 152 pounds. He joined Bobzien on the 2021 Cadet World Team and will wrestle at Michigan.
Several guys will lead Florida this week in Tulsa. Sawyer Bartelt (195 pounds). He is a double Fargo All-American and won the 16U Greco championship last year. He also grabbed two age-group U.S. Open All-American honors in late April. Bartelt also logged a 16-0 performance in last year’s Junior Nationals Duals.
The defending Greco-Roman champions return seven and boast one of the tournament’s most accomplished rosters. There are few weaknesses throughout with three Fargo champions. The firepower immediately shows with 120-pounder Anthony Ruzic. He won a Fargo 16U Greco championship a year ago. In fact, there are three Fargo champions between the 120-pound and 138-pound spots. Kannon Webster (132 pounds) won in freestyle at Fargo and placed third in Greco. An Illinois commit, Webster went undefeated in last year’s Junior National Duals. At 138 pounds, circle Nasir Bailey’s name. He also won at Fargo. Coincidentally, Bailey beat Webster less than two weeks ago in the U20 freestyle World Team Trials third place bout. Braden Stauffenberg (152 pounds) will represent the U.S. this summer at the U20 Greco-Roman World Championships.
Glance at any wrestling recruit list and you will see several names on this squad. The defending freestyle national champions visit Tulsa with a handful of high-end Division 1 commits. Iowa’s depth and experience with nine returners present minimal weaknesses. Get familiar with Nate Jesuroga (120 pounds). A blue-chip Iowa commit, he grabbed gold at the 2021 Cadet World Championships. He returns to the Junior National Duals after an undefeated performance in 2021. Hunter Garvin (152 pounds) will compete at the 2022 U20 World Championships in both styles. Despite all the success, this will be his first National Duals event since 2016. Tate Naaktgeboren slots in at 182 pounds. He’ll be an Iowa State Cyclone in the fall. In the upper weights, Ben Kueter (225 pounds) exemplifies the definition of an athlete. He will play football and wrestle for the Hawkeyes in the fall. Kueter returns after a 100% bonus rate in last year’s Junior National Duals. On top of several Fargo honors, he will join Garvin at the U20 World Championships.
New Jersey recorded a seventh-place freestyle finish last year but only return two in Michael Dellagatta (195 pounds) and heavyweight Max Acciardi. Dellagatta is up 25 pounds this season. But New Jersey’s star power relies in Leo DeLuca (120 pounds). He snagged a Fargo freestyle championship last summer. DeLuca didn’t compete in a National Duals event last year but went a combined 17-2 in both styles in the 2019 14U National Duals.
Ohio brings a load of All-Americans to the Junior National Duals. Start at 100 pounds with Javan Yarbrough, a double Fargo All-American. He finished runner up in 16U Greco but won 16U freestyle. Watch for returner Omar Ayoub at 132 pounds. A U.S. Open All-American, he recorded just one loss in last year’s 16U National duals. Upper weights remain a strength for Ohio. At 195 pounds, Seth Shumate, finished runner-up at Fargo but won a Greco championship in 2019. He is an Ohio State commit. Carter Neves (220 pounds) and Logan Shephard (285 pounds) are also Fargo All-Americans.
Pennsylvania didn’t reach the podium in either event last year. In fact, it wasn’t even close. The absence of Luke Lilledahl (113 pounds) in 2021 contributed to that performance. Instead, Lilledahl spent time training for several World level tournaments. He claimed two gold medals at the U17 Pan-American Championships and earned silver at the Cadet World Championships in Hungary. He carries the momentum of a U.S. Open U17 freestyle championship into Tulsa. At 145 pounds, Pierson Manville anchors Pennsylvania’s middleweights. He earned a spot on the U20 Greco Roman World Team after winning the U20 World Team Trials in early June. In last year’s Fargo tournament, he secured a 16U Greco championship and finished 16U freestyle runner-up.
These boys don’t have the depth some other squads do but there is world level and All-American power here. One thing is constant throughout the roster — strength in Greco-Roman. Mitchell Neiner (126 pounds) will make his Junior National Duals debut after earning Greco All-American honors in Fargo last year. The Michaelson brothers, Thor and Lars, anchor Washington’s middle and upper weights. Thor is one of the few U17 Pan-American gold medalists in this tournament. In fact, he won gold in both styles in last year’s U17 Pan-American championships and earned freestyle Outstanding Wrestler. His brother, Lars, claimed two Fargo All-American honors last year. Keep an eye out on this team.
Unlike several teams, Wisconsin plans to bring two different rosters for each style. Only heavyweight Jaren Rohde is pulling double duty. Wisconsin placed in both styles last year but boasts an accomplished Greco squad. At 132 pounds, Rhett Koenig invades Tulsa as a 2022 U.S. Open U17 third-place finisher in Greco. He also captured a 16U Greco seventh place finish in Fargo. Wisconsin’s middleweight unit remains loaded. Wisconsin owns eight All-American honors between 138 pounds and 152. Brett Back (152 pounds) didn’t lose in last year’s 16U National Duals. Less than a month later, he finished 16U Greco runner-up and fourth in freestyle at Fargo. Ashton Miess (160 pounds) bulked up three weight classes this year. The bulk proved beneficial with a runner-up finish at the U20 Greco World Team Trials. David Malin (182 pounds) is another strong dual competitor. He won all his matches in last year’s 16U National Duals.